Ruprecht Prusseit came into the summer of 2024 unsure of whether to continue the work he’d started at SV Dessau 05 or seek pastures new. He’d worked wonders to keep Dessau in the fifth tier with a bunch of high-potential but low-current-ability teenagers and the club’s finances were a huge concern.
Indeed, the board had already slashed Prusseit’s wage budget and he’d somehow managed to overspend it, even though only nine players were being paid a wage! The poor finances meant it was also virtually impossible to bolster his squad, which gave him no option but to rely on a growing batch of exciting youngsters.
Prusseit considered his options and, given a lack of available East German managerial roles, eventually agreed to a new one-year deal at Dessau. But crucially, he dropped his wage to address the club’s finances and removed the high compensation his board were demanding from rival clubs to give him a better chance of a future move.
With that contract in the bag, Prusseit cooked up a tactical switch to try and get the best out of his players. The last couple of youth intakes had produced some solid players but, crucially, no natural goalscorer, so Prusseit devised a strikerless approach. However, a few days into the season, the perils of non-contract players arose again as midfielders Wael Salhi and Koffi Laba were poached by teams from the league below. So he kept a modified 4-3-3 in his pocket.
Second Season In Tier 5
The media certainly didn’t fancy Dessau’s chances, predicting them to come last in the extended 18-team German Division North East – South. They were 200/1 to win the league and, realistically, they were doomed to relegation. Magdeburg II remain favourites at 1/4 followed by relegated Rot-Weiß Erfurt (15/8), Nordhausen (13/2), Wismut Gera (7/1) and Plauen (15/2), so four of the top five favourites are fellow East German sides.
The new tactic got its first outing at home to Eilenburg. Recent academy graduate Kevin von der Weth scored on his debut but his side was a little unlucky to lose 2-1. Next was a big game at newly promoted Halle 96, which was probably a must-win if they had any chance of survival. Prusseit switched to 4-3-3 and his team delivered thanks largely to the referee awarding two penalties converted by midfielder Marc Kauffmann plus a Tom Berg strike, which ended his 15-hour goal drought and sealed a 3-2 victory.
A tougher test followed at home to Plauen, who won 2-0 with two goals from last season’s league top scorer Christopher Bibaku, who scored a hat-trick in the corresponding fixture last year and, for context, earns more than Dessau’s entire squad combined. Then they went to Magdeburg II and got thumped 4-1 and a 1-0 loss at Grimma dropped them into the relegation zone. But a 1-1 at home to Nordhausen thanks to Berg’s equaliser lifted them to the heady heights of 14th.
But that couldn’t stop the rot as they went six without a win before a huge game at 17th-place Eisenberg. And they again delivered against a relegation rival thanks, again, to a Hoffmann penalty before Berg scored two direct free-kicks after Eisenberg had also scored a direct free-kick!
They were nowhere near good enough to get anything from games against teams not struggling at the bottom. But crucially when they did take on the strugglers Prusseit’s team just about had enough about them, as was proven again with a 1-0 win at home to Martinroda thanks to a delicious Berg finish.
However, they finally beat a non-terrible team as midfielder Luka Böhmermann scored a 30-yard screamer for his first senior goal then a late Berg winner earned a 2-1 win over 10th-place Hohenstein. But they had goalkeeper Frank Sander to thank for making eight saves. Two away defeats before an absolutely dreadful game at home to 15th-place Inter Leipzig that absolutely deserved a 0-0. But in the third minute of injury time, Berg latched onto a long hoof clear and took advantage of some terrible goalkeeping to tap into an empty net to secure a massive win.
The final game of 2024 saw Dessau host 17th-place Halle, who’d just sacked their manager, making this a vital game. But they played poorly as managerless Halle dominated them only for Berg to score both their shots on target to nick a 2-2.
That sent Dessau into the 50-day winter break in 14th place and five points above the drop zone, which was a reflection on how bad the teams at the bottom of the league are. Over halfway into the campaign, only five Dessau players have scored a goal and Berg has scored 63% of their league goals and only Aluong Yaak has more than two assists. But Berg has excelled with an impressive 12 goals in 19 league games.
Could Prusseit perform another miracle and keep his young Dessau squad in the fifth tier for a third season? Join us on Monday to find out!
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